December 7, 2013

Frozen (2013)

Kristen Bell and other people not good looking enough to remember their names

I had a lot of reservations going into this movie. For one thing, I don't like Kristen Bell. It's not just that she dates Dax Shepard (though really, that's enough), but that she's a mediocre actress who gets an astonishing amount of work. I also still dislike her from the time I sat through When In Rome.

That being said, her voice was completely fine for the movie. If I hadn't known it was her ahead of time, I'm not even sure I would have been able to identify her, which is a positive thing in an animated movie. I've said it before, but there is really nothing worse than having a distinct voice for a character because then all you can picture is that actor instead of getting lost in the cartoon itself. That's why most cartoon TV shows have actors you've never heard of voicing the characters on the show. (Sadly, Seth McFarlane has made such an effort at being visible, he had to go and kill off Brian in Family Guy because Brian sounded exactly like Seth in real life. At least that's my theory behind Brian's demise.)

I was also apprehensive because the commercials really didn't sell the movie to me. Sure, there have been posters plastered on every city bus for months now, but the trailer itself didn't explain the plot at all. It also featured Olaf, the snowman, who frankly, seemed annoying in the ads. I was afraid the movie would try too had to use him as comic relief and end up with something that required a laugh track.

But this movie surprised me in a lot of ways. Olaf the snowman was an excellent character, who did provide comic relief, but in a genuinely funny way. What's that joke about comedy? The key to comedy is timing? (Or follow these incredibly lame steps.) This movie had excellent timing. Between the jokes, the songs (which were mercifully short) and plot twists, everything moved at what seemed to be the exact right pace: not too slow, not too fast. The entire movie seemed to fly by, which, if you think about it, signals a lack of slow parts and dragging in the plot.

But (and there's always a but), there was one glaring negative, weighing the movie down. And that was Elsa's singing voice. Here's the thing about Elsa (the blonde, older sister to the main character, Anna): she's beautiful. Not to be creepy, but after seeing her, I started to understand those weird guys who are super into anime because they think the girls are hot. Say what you want about Disney's affinity for making their princesses white skinned and blonde, but she beats out every other princess in my book. So her delicate little frame, wispy white-blonde hair and sheer, flow-y dress did not match the deep, raspy singing voice Disney gave her. I just don't get it. Her speaking voice? Fine. So why would they have her sound like a 180 pound, 40 year old* while singing? It completely ruined Elsa's solo, which is unfortunate because she's using some pretty badass magical powers while she sings. Fortunately, she only sings one solo, so she didn't ruin the entire movie.

One last thought about Elsa - I can't go into too much detail, but suffice it to say I think she's the better sister. I know, I know, the main character always has to the "quirky" girl who doesn't quite fit in or play by the rules because somehow people relate more to that (What about all the rule-followers out there? Who do they get as role models?), but Elsa is really just better in almost every way. She's prettier, she's got some pretty cool magical powers, and well, she's a queen, compared to Anna's princess status. I'm just not seeing why Anna is going to end up as the marketed princess. Sigh. Us perfect people have it so difficult.

Final word: I just hope Disney adds both princesses to their collection.

*Update: I later looked it up to realize Elsa is voiced by Idina Menzel (or Adele Dazeem, according to John Travolta). So she's not 180 pounds, but she is over 40 and while I understand she voiced both the speaking and singing parts of Elsa's character, I hold fast to my opinion that her voice was totally inappropriate in its singing capacity. I know she's on Glee, but just because you have a nice singing voice doesn't mean it was meant to sing this character. And now I have to hear it ever goddamn day because every child in America is obsessed with the friggin soundtrack to this movie and it plays on repeat in every coffee shop, book store, and toddler gym (yes, you read that correctly) I go into.

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